Tag: Portland OR

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

Live Footage: Other Lives at Music Apartment

Currently comprised of Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, vocals), Jonathon Mooney (piano, guitar, percussion, trumpet) and Josh Onstott (bass, keys, percussion, guitar and backing vocals), the Portland, OR-based indie rock trio Other Lives initially formed in Stillwater, OK back in 2004, recording and releasing an album under the name Kunek before changing their name, as they went through a decided change in sonic direction and approach that necessitated a rebranding. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its almost 8 year history, you may recall that the trio have received both national and international attention for a lushly orchestrated sound reminiscent of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen while nodding at Joy Division ,The Darcys and Caveman. 

Much like JOVM mainstays Warhaus, the members of Other Lives were invited to perform an intimate and career spanning set of their gorgeous, genre defying yet accessible and emotionally immediate material for Music Apartment. 

New Video: The Symbolic, Video Game-Styled Visuals for The Prids Shoegazer-like “Mangled Hearts”

Currently comprised of founding members Mistina La Fave and David Fredrickson, with Tim Yates and Gordon Nickel, the Portland, OR-based noise pop act The Prids can trace their origins back to 1995 when the founding duo met in La Fave’s hometown of Saint Joseph, MO — shortly after Frederickson had relocated from Southern California. As the story goes, La Fave and Fredrickson started a relationship, divorced not long after they got married, formed The Prids, relocated to Lincoln, NE before permanently settling in Portland in 1999. Despite going through several lineup changes, the band has released four full-length albums, a handful of EPs and toured across the world with acts like Built to Spill and others,  while developing a reputation for their tenacious adherence to remaining completely DIY for all the right reasons to remain DIY,  which has won them countless admirers and fans across the DIY scene. And along with being among the forefront of the Pacific Northwest’s DIY scene, they’re one of Portland’s longest-running active bands, surviving through illness, deaths of friends and loved ones, the aforementioned divorce and a near fatal van accident. 

In some way, it’s a miracle that the band’s album Do I Look Like I’m in Love exists, let alone be slated for a a  January 12, 2018  through their label, This-a-Way Records. La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage the night before the band was scheduled to enter the studio to record new material. And as you can imagine, La Fave’s recovery was mentally, physically and emotionally taxing for her and for everyone in the band with La Fave considering herself being lucky to be alive — with playing and performing being icing on the proverbial cake.  Reportedly, the new album will further cement the band’s reputation for deliberate attention to songcraft and nuanced (and moody) soundscapes paired with keen lyrical observations. 

Do I Look Like I’m in Love’s latest single “Mangled Hearts” is a tender, shimmering, shoegazer-like track that features La Fave’s ethereal yet contemplative vocals, four-on-the-floor drumming and a gently soaring hook that evokes a swooning longing for something or someone just out of reach. 

The recently released video was animated by the band’s nonbinaary and androgyne keyboradist Tim Yates and is an 8-bit video game adventure reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania and others featuring a nameless and gender-neutral everyperson, who wears a shirt with a non-binary flag for most of their adventure. The video’s baddies behave in ways inspired by the struggles of the LGBTQ community — you’ll see one-eyed pyramid creatures meant to represent harmful and repressive religious doctrine, solid stone knights with scrolls symbolizing unjust and rigid legislation and so on. Throughout, the video, it’s protagonist employs non-violent and clever ways to defeat the bad guys they encounter. And while being mischievous and pretty fucking clever, the video reminds the viewer that for some of our dearest and beloved friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors, that there’s a continuing struggle for acceptance.  

Currently comprised of founding trio Brandon Pierce, a founding member of prog rock act Ancestors, who has had stints with Buried at Sea, Deth Crux, Night Horse and Portland,OR’s Soft Kill; Brandon’s wife Rachael Pierce, an accomplished vocalist, who spent years demoing pop songs for major labels; and Cameron Carlin, who also is a member of Black Mare, the Los Angeles, CA-based post punk trio GLAARE initially formed back in 2012 and since their formation, the band has received attention for featuring some of Southern California’s most accomplished musicians, as well as for a sound that possesses elements of darkwave, dream pop and goth-rock while revealing a meticulous songwriting approach through the release of 2014’s The Universe Is Machine, which featured former member Jason Watkins (keys), a 2015 split 7 inch with electronic duo Intimachine and a self-titled cassette EP last year.
To Deaf and Day, the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based post-punk trio’s full-length debut was released earlier this year through Dune Altar/Funeral Party Records, and from the album’s latest single “Desiree,” the members of GLAARE will further cement their growing local and regional reputation for a sound that’s deeply indebted to 4AD Records heyday, The Cure, Sixousie and the Banshees and others but with a subtly modern sheen.

Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.


The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.




Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends can trace their origins to when its founding core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” “We  would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, including the band’s latest single “TV Surprise.” As Way explains in press notes “‘TV Surprise’ is a song that’s been around for probably 10 years at least, maybe one. It’s got a real Felt/The Feelies vibe to it that I really like — those are two bands that we were just starting to get into around the time I wrote the song, so it’s no surprise that was coming through. The abstract feel of the lyrics is the thing that ended up making it not a perfect fit for inclusion on the Blurred Harmony album sequence, but Danny (O’Hanlon, who mixed the record) did a really great job creatively mixing the song — he added a lot of the textures that make this recording of the song have such a cool atmosphere and mood.”Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though the band were drawing from Fleetwood Mac, Southern rock and psych rock, as the song possesses the easy-going, self-assuredness of a bunch of old pros getting the old band together and jamming and while it sounds as though it would have been a perfect fit for the album, I agree with Way in the sense that the song doesn’t feel as personal as previous single “Coming Down” — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the song captures the band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle, and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.


New Audio: JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Return with an Epic, Mind-Altering Bit of Thrash Metal

Now, over the past year or so, Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P has added themselves to a lengthy and eclectic list of mainstay artists I’ve written about throughout the history of this site. And as you may recall, the quartet’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80’s productions — think Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, and as a result, the members of the band have crafted material with a streamlined and punishingly,  raw ferocity,  specifically meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream as the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Unlike their debut, Street Reaper reveals a subtly expanded songwriting approach, rooted in their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a particular tuning or time signature but rather, a particular mood that inspires doom — in this case, terror, uncertainty, chaos, war, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced not by doom metal’s typical sci-fi, fantasy or mysticism but within an inescapable, horrible and fearful present, full of what seems to be the impending collapse of democracy as we know it in the US, of economic failure, dwindling resources, increasing inequity and inequality, nuclear war, civil war, and a primal fight for survival. Album single “The Other Side” may arguably be the Portland-based band’s most blistering and impassioned playing — and while it may be a desperate howl into a growing void, there’s a feral urgency within the material that sets them apart from their contemporaries. The album’s follow-up single, “Unmarked Grave,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it features  blistering, impassioned, face-melting power chords, a motorik groove, forceful drumming, an arena friendly hook and howled vocals, and while being equally urgent, the material manages to sound as though it were indebted to Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a sweaty, whiskey and hallucinogen-fueled frenzy.

“The Casket,” Street Reaper’s latest single (and album opening track) is a blistering bit of thrash metal, reminiscent of Ride the Lightning and Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica and Iron Maiden, thanks in part to layers upon layers of chugging power chords, forceful drumming and howled vocals and it may be among the most explosive songs they’ve released to date, but pay close attention to the expansive and ambitious song structure that features shifting time signature changes and chord progressions, as well as some incredibly dexterous guitar work. Simply put, it’s pretty fucking epic!

Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter producer, electronic music artist and multi-instrumentalist Ben Braun grew up in an extremely musical home, as his father once played drums in Hall and Oates‘ backing band — and interestingly enough, the younger Braun is perhaps best known as as one-half of synth pop act Mackintosh Braun, an act that has received attention for a 80s synth pop and New Wave-inspired sound. Unsurprisingly, Bruan’s solo recording project  BRAUN has managed to further cement his reputation for crafting a cinematic, 80s synth pop sound.

Now, if you have been frequenting this site, you may know that Braun’s full-length full-length debut Silent Silence reportedly began from Braun’s awareness of the personal freedoms that he had felt he had sacrificed to live in the comforts of a constantly connecte life full of new technological devices, and as you’d hear on “Prague,” the album’s second single, the material while being slickly produced, manages to be under-pinned by a longing for a much simpler life, all while nodding at Tears for Fears‘ “Head Over Heels” and much more contemporary fare like Rush Midnight.

Silent Science‘s third and latest single “Gardens” continues along a similar path as its immediate predecessor as the track, shimmering and cinematic synth pop, complete with  soaring hooks and sinuous guitar and bass chords; however, unlike its predecessor, the song possess a swooning, Romantic urgency — all while managing to feel mischievously anachronistic, as the song sounds and feels as though it could have been released in the 80s and — well, yesterday.



Comprised of Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Portland, OR-based Aaron Chapman and Idaho Falls, ID-born and currently Los Angeles, CA-based John Bowers, the synth pop duo Nurses have developed a reputation for a creative restlessness with the project seeing several different iterations rooted in making the strange seem familiar and the familiar seem strange; but interestingly, that restlessness seems inspired by the restlessness that the duo bonded over in the first place. After leaving their isolated and predominantly Mormon hometown, the duo have spent time on a rural California fan, a van in Chicago and an attic in Portland before the members of the duo relocated to Portland and Los Angeles respectively. And naturally,  as a result the duo find themselves collaborating at a distance and through the internet.

Interestingly with the release of the critically applauded albums Apple’s Acre and Dracula saw the band receiving a growing national profile, as they toured with the likes of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, The Mountain Goats, The Tallest Man on Earth and others; but they also received attention after the A$AP Mob freestyled over the beatfreestyled over the beat from “You Lookin’ Twice” for Pitchfork’s Selector.

Since then the duo has developed a reputation for being reclusive; however, Naughtland which is slated for an October 7, 2017 release will be the first bit of recorded output the duo have released in over six years with the album’s titled being derived from a series of conversations the duo had during the writing and recording process about the origins of ideas and inspiration, and whether were generated internally or plucked like fruit from the street of some independent non-place. Reportedly, the material on the forthcoming Naughtland will further cement the duo’s reputation for plumbing the stranger depths of the human condition as the material thematically focuses on ephemerality and materiality, life and death, love and terror, the struggle for self in the duality of contemporary identity and so on, essentially admitting that life is confusing and complicated array of paradoxes and uncertainties — and that hell, that’s okay.

The album’s first single, album opener “In The Mirror” is arguably one of the strangest yet most accessible songs I’ve personally heard this year as the duo craft a sound and production that pairs swaggering, twitter and woofer rocking beats, twisting and turning synth chords, a lysergic-fueled guitar solo, R&B-like falsetto crooning and a soaring and anthemic hook that can be seen as celebrating the impermanence of life or celebrating nihilism. Sonically the song has been accurately described as a Dr. Dre-like production set in a David Lynchian nightmare — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song possesses a feverish vibe.